The city of Paris is suing Airbnb for violating a French law that requires advertisements about short term rentals to include a registration number.
Under French law, home owners in Paris can rent out their places on short-term rental platforms for up to 120 days a year. Advertisements must include a registration number to help ensure properties are not rented out for longer. This law was passed in 2018.
Paris is suing Airbnb for publishing 1,000 illegal rental adverts. Those who break this law can be punished by fines of 12,500 euros per illegal posting. This means Airbnb could end up paying 12.5 million euros, which comes to $14.2 million.
Reuters reported that France is Airbnb’s second-largest market after the United States. Paris, one of the most visited cities in the world, is its biggest single market, with around 65,000 homes listed.
Paris is absolutely serious about the 2018 law. The mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, told the Journal du Dimanche newspaper, “The goal is to send a shot across the bows to get it over with unauthorized rentals spoil some Parisian neighborhoods.” It appears that Airbnb may have to pay the fine if it wants to continue it’s business in Paris.
A spokeswoman for Airbnb told Reuters that the company implemented measures to help Paris users of its website comply with European rules. The spokeswoman said the rules in Paris were “inefficient, disproportionate and in contravention of European rules.”
This problem could have been entirely prevented if Airbnb paid attention to the Paris rule regarding short-term rentals and advertisements. I think Airbnb will have difficulty convincing a court that it did not break the Paris law.
If Airbnb ends up not being allowed to continue its business in Paris – it could potentially result in good things for the people who live in the city. CityLab reported about a study that found that spikes in Airbnb listings were strongly linked to rent increases in some of the largest US metro areas. Rent increases tend to make it very hard for low-income people to find affordable housing.
Perhaps this was what the mayor of Paris meant when she said that unauthorized rentals spoil some Parisian neighborhoods.